New figures reveal record hospital overcrowding in 2017

A total of 57,674 patients had to wait for a bed between January and July this year

INMO, trolley, patients, University Hospital Limerick, St Vincent's University Hospital

Empty hospital beds in a corridor | Image: RollingNews.ie

The first seven months of this year have seen a record number of patients forced to wait on trolleys or in wards in Irish hospitals.

The latest figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) show that 57,674 patients had to wait for a bed between January and July.

The union said the figures “continue to be a source of great concern” despite the fact that the July figures was down on the same month in 2016.

According to the data, the hospitals that have experienced the worst overcrowding are:

  • University Hospital Limerick: 4,782 patients
  • Cork University Hospital: 3,949 patients
  • University Hospital Galway: 3,688 patients
  • Mater Hospital Dublin: 3,319 patients
  • South Tipperary General Hospital: 3,100 patients

The union has urged the government and the HSE to immediately provide the necessary funding and agree upon incentives to recruit a sufficient number of staff to expand the health service before the winter period.

INMO general secretary Liam Doran said the figures are “very, very disappointing and proof, if it were needed, that the health service continues to be incapable to cater for demand.”

“57,000 people admitted as requiring in-patient care left on trolleys or chairs in in-patient wards,” he said.

“And when you add that to the growing waiting list figures – people waiting for an appointment or procedure – you can just simply see that we don’t have enough beds, access is a real problem and until that is solved, this overcrowding crisis will continue.”

He said the government must take immediate action to ensure additional beds can be opened and properly staffed.

“If our health service is to respond appropriately to both emergency and planned admissions, additional bed capacity and community nursing services must be introduced,” he said.

“This will only be done when we solve the recruitment/retention crisis facing nursing and midwifery in Ireland. 

“If we do not have additional nurses and midwives then we cannot expand our capacity and overcrowding levels will continue to grow.”

“Our real concern is that as we approach the tip of the summer and move into autumn and winter when extra demand comes on – what is going to happen?

There were 409 patients waiting on trolleys or in wards for treatment today.

The average daily count for August is 336 patients a day – a rise of 27 on the same period last year.